Leprosy is a skin disease that causes sores, nerve damage, and muscle weakness that gets progressively worse over time if untreated. While today there are treatments that can cure leprosy, in the time of Christ, there was no known medical cure. People at that time thought it was highly contagious (and while it is contagious, it requires close and repeated contact to transmit). In Jesus’ time lepers were not allowed in the cities nor were they allowed to get near other people.
Jesus cured many people of leprosy during his ministry (see Matt. 8:2–4; Mark 1:40–45; Luke 5:12–15; 3 Ne. 17:7–9) including, in one instance, healing ten lepers. Here is that scriptural account:
11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
This story has many facets and illustrates many gospel principles and a prime one is gratitude. Jesus’ feelings about ingratitude are clear when only one of ten lepers who had been healed turned back to give thanks and Jesus asks “where are the nine?” David B. Haight said:
“As I’ve read that story again and again, it’s made a great impression upon me. How would you like to be part of the “nine society”? Wouldn’t that be something—to be numbered among those who failed to return and acknowledge the Savior for the blessings He had given them? Only one returned. It’s so easy in life for us to receive blessings, many of them almost uncounted, and have things happen in our lives that can help change our lives, improve our lives, and bring the Spirit into our lives. But we sometimes take them for granted. How grateful we should be for the blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings into our hearts and souls.”1
Certainly, the Lord expects each of us to acknowledge his hand in our lives and give him thanks for all of our many blessings. D&C 59: 7 says “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things,” and later, in verse 21, the Lord says, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.”
Cleansed Inside and Out
Another realization I had as I studied this story came I as reread verse 19: “thy faith hath made thee whole.” Weren’t all nine made whole? The other nine that were healed, was that due to their faith? The point of the story seems to be the tenth and his gratitude and glorifying of God. Then it dawned on my, when Jesus declared that the tenth leper was made whole, he was referring to his body and spirit. The faith in Jesus Christ exhibited by the tenth leper caused his body to be healed and also his soul to become whole, clean, and pure.
Merrill J. Bateman came to a similar conclusion: “In becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside. That day nine lepers were healed skin deep, but only one had the faith to be made whole. The tenth leper [was] changed eternally by [his] faith in the Savior and the healing power of his atonement.” 2
When we recognize the Lord’s blessings in our lives and, like the tenth leper, pause to give thanks and glorify God, then even greater blessings await us. As we obey God’s commandments, blessings always flow, and as we give thanks for these blessings, through our faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we can be made whole in body, spirit, and soul, thus preparing for eternal life with Our Heavenly Father and Jesus.
- Were There Not Ten Cleansed? by David B. Haight, October 2002
- The Power to Heal from Within, Merrill J. Bateman, April 1995
- Gratitude and Thanksgiving by Marion G. Romney, October 1982
- Primary 7: New Testament Lesson 21: Jesus Christ Heals Ten Lepers
- Jesus Heals the Ten Lepers Coloring Page
- Jesus Christ heals ten lepers – Power Point on SugarDoodle